Fleet News

Fleets call for investigation into petrol firms' profits

FLEETS have called on the Office of Fair Trading to name and shame oil companies and expose the 'staggering' profits it is claimed they are making at the expense of motorists. In recent weeks crude oil prices have fallen by about 30%, while pump prices have only reduced in the last few days by 'a few pence', although there was a small pump price reduction by some fuel companies before Christmas.

In response to a widespread outcry over alleged profiteering both from the fleet industry and the general motorist, the Government is poised to demand action from oil companies. Energy minister Helen Liddell has been dispatched to meet with oil companies individually to bring home the Government's view that 'consumers should reap the benefits of the current reduction in oil prices'.

Chancellor Gordon Brown said he was closely monitoring the differential between the price of fuel for motorists and the crude price, warning oil companies he had not ruled out changes to their special tax status.

David Shardlow, fleet manager at Mansell South Construction Division, called for a standardisation of prices at regional or national level.

Shardlow said: 'I can't understand why the price of unleaded petrol is 79.9p a litre at one Shell station and 77p at another Shell outlet only 10 miles away.

'Oil companies know that even if they raised the price at the pump by £1 a litre, people will still queue to fill up their tanks. They know we can't force our drivers only to fill up at certain stations because that would not be operationally viable for our business.

'I think we should tell oil companies if they are not going to give us petrol in the way that we deserve, then we are going to switch to liquefied petroleum gas which we can store in our depots or buy at local stations. If they know there is overwhelming demand for a alternative fuel then they will give in.'

Paul Cussel, Thomas Cook's fleet manager said: 'Oil companies are deliberately dragging their feet so as to maximise profits before crude oil prices possibly rise again. They say they have cut petrol prices at the pump, but these cuts are not really significant.'

Fleet operators also claim the Government is not anxious to put pressure on oil companies to respond reasonably to falling crude oil prices for fear that further reductions in pump prices could compel it to lower fuel duties - the highest in Europe.

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